'I'm still dreaming': Tigers stymie, smash Rockies on Miguel Cabrera's historic day
Detroit — Miguel Cabrera was asked afterward if the moment lived up to how he dreamt it.
"I think I'm still dreaming," he said. "To be able to see 3,000, pretty special."
Sitting on 2,999 after going 0-for-3 with an intentional pass Thursday, then enduring the rainout Friday, the big man did not make the folks wait long on Saturday.
On a warm, beautiful afternoon, an announced crowd of 37,566 packed Comerica Park and were standing in the first inning when Miguel Cabrera punched the third pitch he saw from Rockies right-hander Anthony Senzatela into right field — career hit No. 3,000.
The crowd erupted and his teammates streamed onto the field, mobbing him at first base. Cabrera, who is now the seventh player to amass 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, and one of just three (Willie Mays and Hank Aaron) to reach those totals with a career batting average of .300 or better.
"We witnessed history," manager AJ Hinch said. "I'm so proud of him, so happy for him."
Hinch, like he did after Cabrera hit his 500th home run last year, held a congratulatory team meeting in the clubhouse after the Tigers finished up the 13-0 romp over the Colorado Rockies.
"Miggy talked about how important it was to play like we did today for the Detroit fans," Hinch said. "He tried to spin it and make it not about him. But what a special day for him, his family, every Venezuelan baseball player who looks up to Miggy, every baseball player period who looks up to Miggy.
"It was really cool to be a part of it."
Cabrera could barely contain his emotions, especially when he shared a hug with his mother, wife and two children before play was resumed.
"This was really special because I wanted to do it here for my fans and in my hometown," Cabrera said. "I'm really happy I hit it here."
His hit also seemed to fire up the Tigers, who rode three four-run innings to their most complete win of the season in the first of two games Saturday.
"The fans showed up early and were great from the beginning," Hinch said. "And we showed up today. It was our best collective game across the board. We all had a lot of fun."
Rookie Spencer Torkelson capped the four-run bust in the first with a booming three-run home run to right field, his third of the season.
Harold Castro, a fellow Venezuelan, celebrated Cabrera’s milestone with a four-hit day — the third of his career. Robbie Grossman contributed three hits on the day, his second straight three-hit day. And Cabrera gave an encore — ripping a two-out, two-run single up the middle in the sixth inning for hit No. 3,001 (passing the late Pirates great Roberto Clemente).
He was lifted for a pinch-runner and jogged off the field to a full-stadium standing ovation.
"Seeing Miguel grow from a teenager taking batting practice on neighborhood fields in Venezuela to becoming one of the best players in baseball history has been one of the great joys of my life," Tigers general manager Al Avila said.
"His humility, passion for having fun and genuine love of the city of Detroit are completely unmatched and joining the 3,000-hit club only strengthens his standing as one of the game's all-time greats."
The Tigers also got an inspired performance from left-hander Tarik Skubal, who shut out the best offense in baseball over six innings.
The Rockies came in leading the majors with a .281 team average, a .437 slugging percentage and a .781 OPS. But Skubal was unfazed.
He cruised through the first five innings, allowing just two singles. He used his five-pitch mix expertly, working off a lively four-seam fastball (94-96 mph) that got five whiffs on seven swings. His change-up was effective against a predominantly right-handed hitting Rockies lineup, too.
His only stress came in the sixth, when the Rockies loaded the bases with one out on three singles. But after a visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter, Skubal struck out Kris Bryant with a 95-mph heater and got former Tiger C.J. Cron to foul out to first baseman Torkelson.
"This brought back a lot of memories," Cabrera said of the atmosphere at Comerica Park. "My first time in Detroit we always had 35,000, 40,000 every night. To see the fans come back to the stadium like that, it was very emotional. I know what the fans mean to our game and to our team. They have supported us a lot. I was really happy to see all the fans here today."
The Rockies own an unusual historical distinction. Of the last nine players to reach the 3,000-hit plateau, four have done it against the Rockies.
"We just don't know it we're going to see anything like this again in our lifetime," Hinch said. "We're going to look back at this and completely rank it at or near the top of our experiences — just being a part of this small juncture of his Hall of Fame career."